Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The trip

Oh, the relentless jetlag! I still feel awful in the mornings and reasonably bright about 10 pm. However, if I wait till I feel able to write the *perfect* blog post about my trip it will never happen.

So, ten days in India: cold, fascinating, rugged, endearing, tiring, fun.

Cold - my parents live up in the north of India at the base of the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.  So January is very cold. I slept in socks, long undearwear, a woollen spencer, a long-sleeve t-shirt and then flannel pjs over all of that and some nights I wore a beanie for good measure. I don't think it is so much that the weather is extreme - they are down in the valley so they don't get snow - but that the heating that we take for granted in winter is absent and the housing is mainly large concrete bunkers that operate like a fridge. I never went around the house with bare feet or just socks. The concrete floors were like ice and you felt it creeping up your ankles as soon as your little toes touch the ground.

My bedroom.

Fascinating - I enjoyed the sights and sounds and diversions of being in a totally different place. Someone asked my parents before I came if they thought I'd be shocked by India. The answer is, no, I wasn't. In many ways it was very much like my own childhood memories: noisy streets, people and rubbish everywhere, rough streets, auto-rickshaws which are very much like what we got around in, motorbikes, street dogs.... and so on.  So the infrastructure was similar although the culture was different. It's fun to learn things and try and work out how to operate in a new place. I love the tricks and idiosyncrasies that you uncover as you learn how people live, love and work in a different environment.

Walking up the street to get to the main road

Main road
Rugged - my parents live in an apartment on the campus at which they work.  That said, it's very different to an apartment in Australia. There is hot water in the bathroom, but not the kitchen. The tap water is not safe unless it's run through the water filter first. The only heating is comes from a small heater that runs off a portable gas cylinder. They have a fridge and a washing machine.  Their stove is two burners that run off another gas cylinder. They have a microwave, mobile phones and television. Their home is comfortable and it's all fine if you are well. But it's another thing when you are sick. Dad had gastro for two days near the start of my visit after eating something dodgy (we never did figure out what). I felt pretty bad for him when he was under the weather and was trekking out of his bed to the freezing cold bathroom. Now that they are in their 70s, I'm glad they've decided to retire.

The shower.

The bathroom.

The stove.

Endearing - I can understand why they love the place. The campus they are part of is wonderful. Full of delightful people you can't help but fall in love with and full of meaningful, engaging and purposeful work. They are truly round pegs in round holes there. They are surrounded by people who obviously love them to bits and busy each day with kingdom work. I am not the least bit puzzled as to why they've stayed 15 years.

Chocolate Corner - one of Mum's favourite shops.
You just need to know before you go that it is not on a corner
and chocolate is not its primary business.

Tiring - sooooo cold. It was a bit exhausting.  And there was the constant meeting of new people.  And the diving in to deep conversations with the short amount of time available meant that I felt pretty spent at the end of each day.  Getting your head around how you do even ordinary things in a totally different environment and being always on alert for correct manners and conversation is tiring too. Also... soooooo cold.

The horn = indispensable road safety item.

Fun - I am glad I went. I have certainly not 'caught the travel bug'. I was very glad to see my own bed and *carpet* (oh the joy) again. But I did have a lot of fun while I was there. An Australian friend who has been working at the campus for a year took me out on her motor scooter one afternoon.  There I was, zipping along in the frosty air 9 km up the mountain, hanging on to the back of the scooter as we dodged handcarts, street dogs, crazy auto-drivers and slow moving pedestrians, without a helmet and not a care in the world! Shopping at the main bazaar was fun. Being invited to lunch at various houses was great because I got to wander down lanes and spend time in family homes rather than just look on from the outside.

I wish we had this shop near home. I could do with fewer problems.

Not so convinced about the name of this shop, however.

But it is LOVELY to be home.  I am so grateful to God for safety and good health while I was away. And so thankful to be home.  Did I mention home?


Joan Milne said...

Good to learn you had a good time but are happy to be home! Yes, home.
Thank you for delivering the papers to Aso. He told me.
Don't you mean 'fewer problems'? Not less problems? Ha ha! Couldn't resist - remind you of the nit-picking lady from See For Yourself days.

Deb said...

@Joan: Ah, thank you! It's a wonder that's the only mistake you found given the fog I'm still living in.

Aso is outstanding! And with quite a sense of humour too. I hope everything goes very smoothly with his paperwork.

Meredith said...

What great honour you have given to your parents in this post. And what encouragement to use our days wisely and well for God's glory. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful. Was this your first time there? It'll be so good to have a picture now in your head of this important part in your parents' life. The cold sounds horrid though. So, so thankful for the privilege of good heating! J